For a Frugal Dieter, Weight Loss on a Sliding Scale

July 7th, 2009  |  Published in Stumpblog  |  7 Comments

From the NYT:

If you’re one of the millions of people who are dieting right this minute, or even thinking about it, here’s some good news: you don’t have to throw a lot of money at the problem to see results. In fact, you may not have to spend much at all.

Full story

No shit?! ‘Cause I thought the point was to EAT LESS. And eating less strikes me as, y’know, cheaper. Only in North America would we assume that eating less — and eating better — means spending more on “special” foods. We’ll happily buy $5 protein bars instead of eating a couple of eggs plus an apple.

My most recent vacation brought this point home very well. I booked a hotel room with a kitchen and made nearly all of my meals. I spent a total of $250 on groceries for a week, which is more than I normally spend but in addition to the regular staples (e.g. meat, fruit, veg) I had to get “kitchen set-up” things like olive oil, a pound of coffee, spices, mustard, balsamic vinegar, etc. Still, not a bad deal if you consider that even a cheap restaurant meal would be $15-20 per person, and very likely the food quality would not be ideal.

More on saving money while eating well


  1. beforewisdom says:

    July 7th, 2009at 8:05 am(#)

    Eating less ( fewer calories ) and eating healtheir ( more nutrition ) can easily be more expensive in the United States.

    It isn’t lack of common sense on the part of Americans. It is due to agricultural subsidies that make a salad more expensive than a burger

  2. Mistress Krista says:

    July 7th, 2009at 10:02 am(#)

    The implication in this article is not that purchasing healthier food can be more expensive — a fact of which I am well aware as the research director for the Healthy Food Bank (since our entire premise is that low income people can often not afford decent nutrition) — but that there is an implied purchase of additional “special” foods or “special” services for losing weight.

  3. Beth says:

    July 7th, 2009at 10:47 am(#)

    Okay, so the obvious choice to me for leading a healthy life requires what seems to be a less than abundant resource nowadays, which is COMMON SENSE. Eat healthy, not too much of it, and move as much as possible and you will fall into a healthy weight, practically naturally. But here’s what got me about the article: Why is it that the psychologist and director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale is packing AT LEAST 75 extra dangerous pounds!!!!!!!!!! The picture shows him sitting in front of an apple. My guess is that the only apples he’s eating are found in pie. Come on dude. Isn’t that embarassing to him? Don’t mean to come off as rude but let’s PRACTICE WHAT WE PREACH. Thank you, that was my rant for the day.

  4. Lauren says:

    July 7th, 2009at 1:07 pm(#)

    I think the key thing to observe here is that readers of Stumptous are in a different frame of mind than the intended readers of the article. For us it is obvoius that a pint of cottage cheese and some egg whites are a much better deal than “energy” bars, or slim fast shakes, or any processed meal beginning with “lean.” But not all of us started with this mindset, I remember the revelation I had when I realized that 3 out of the top 5 ingredients in a tasty, “healthy” Kashi granola bar are some form of sugar! No wonder I was hungry 45 minutes later!

    And until Mistriss Krista starts charging for her thoughts, inspiration is free!

  5. Ali says:

    July 8th, 2009at 1:55 am(#)

    It’s not news that what a lot of people seem to think of as as a “diet” is a short-term period of a very specific restricted and odd pattern of eating (maybe with sporadic exercise thrown in once or twice), after which the person can go back to normal eating patterns safe in the knowledge that some mystic properties of the diet will have reset their metabolism so their body will now use all the energy provided by their usual non-diet eating.

    Of course, during that period of time it would be totally unreasonable and quite frankly inhumane to expect someone to go without their “indulgent snacks”* and favourite foods, but that’s OK because as long as you buy the special “diet” version of everything then you’re still honouring the magical “on a diet” period.

    Also, since it’s only a short period of time you don’t need to spend ages learning about all this complicated “nutrition”, but you still need something to follow to get the magic “restricted and odd”, so the books and magazines become necessary.

    Y’know, I don’t think we’re the target audience of that article. It is, as Beth points out above, common sense, but at least it’s better to repeat common sense advice. Maybe it’ll sink in to a few more people this time?

    * I have an entire other rant about the phrase “indulgent snacks” and how a lot of people seem to conflate treats and snacks these days.

  6. Sue says:

    July 22nd, 2009at 5:59 pm(#)

    First of all, thank you and right on to Beth. Having an obese director of an obesity program is like training with someone who has very little muscle. Which, btw, I could rant on forever as I see this constantly in some “popular” chain gyms. Little teeny trainers who can barely lift their shoes, let alone a barbell.

    But I digress. As someone trained in the financial arts, I find all discussion of the true cost of losing weight to be quite moot unless we discuss the true cost of NOT losing weight. Seriously, even if someone quit eating junk food (and they only ordered off the dollar menus) and began to buy whole, natural foods and lean proteins, and even if they went organic and spent more, they would still not come close to spending the amount of money they would most likely be spending had they not changed habits. If we presume no lifestyle/diet change and little to no exercise, how much is that person going to be spending on medication (high blood pressure, diabetes to name a few), how much income will be lost due to missed work due to obesity-related illness, the phsycological cost of limited mobility. Now factor in a person’s insurance – if they don’t have it, guess who pays? So now my cost of staying in shape, eating properly, and having a decent BMI just went up, without me missing a workout.

    The cost issue is broad and societal. Americans need to wake up and quit smelling the bacon.

  7. Melanie says:

    July 27th, 2009at 11:22 am(#)

    What also bothered me about that article was how they said it’s “hard” to keep weight off once you lose it. Well, yeah, if you chuck everything you’ve been doing and go back to the eating/exercising habits that piled on the pounds in the first place, you’re going to run into problems. The whole point about this process is changing your eating and exercising habits *permanently*. But that’s a personal decision — when someone is ready to do it, they’ll do it. Until then, they’re going to stay in the magical mindset that says, “I’ll eat steamed veggies this week, lose 5 pounds, then I can go back to the McDonald’s next week.” Um, no. And I’m one hefty gal — I know whereof I speak.

    Tell you this much, though — I’ve been swimming for the last six weeks or so, lifting weights for the last two weeks, and I’m following Mistress Krista’s guidelines for calorie intake. I’m not hungry, I have no cravings, my weight loss has been steady, and I feel freaking fantastic. No way in hell I’m stopping any of this when I get to my goal weight next year.

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